If you are contemplating to launch a SaaS product, it is obvious to have several questions and doubts running across your mind. However, with a little probe one can get hold of all the information that the internet hold about the tips, tricks and advice about SaaS product launch. What one will hardly come across is the list of pitfalls that should be avoided while launching your SaaS product.
These are issues, which can arise before, during or even after the launch. The thing is, these are the perils that your college degrees or theoretical classrooms won’t teach – rather you will learn about them with time, experience, observations and practice.
Since launching a SaaS product comes with several risks and pitfalls that can pull the entire project down, here is a short list of mistakes to avoid.
For SaaS companies, every launch is not a grand launch. With regular releases, it’s more about re-communicating your idea or thinking about new ways to package your product for the market. So, as you prepare for your next launch, whether big or small it makes sense to make sure that you’re avoiding the following troubles.
7 common mistakes to avoid while launching a SaaS product
#1 – Marketing without Targeting
Most of the people are so excited about the product idea and its market benefits, that they focus only on the technology part and making sure that they develop the perfect code. When the product is ready, they create a website and try to figure out some sort of marketing plan (through a trial and error process) and wait to attract the people automatically; but unfortunately, it doesn’t usually work that way. With time, they establish a sales team and make some occasional profits, but that won’t make any remarkable difference in the profit.
So, it is imperative to first decide and determine your product’s target market even before you start developing it in a full-fledged way, because without that, the whole exercise will be like ‘shooting in the dark’. Define the space to position your product, research and know your target audience, understand their needs, core pain points, everyday challenges, requirements and consumer behaviour. In fact, materializing your idea into a product with amazing features, and a well-designed marketing approach, must run in parallel.
Start with building an audience on your own before launching the product. For example, create a blog to attract attention and raise curiosity, and this will make your product carve a space out in your customers’ minds!
#2 – Untimely product introduction
Make sure that you don’t launch your SaaS product too early or too late – both the cases can have a detrimental effect on your product’s fate. Company owners, sometimes, get driven by the competition or excitement of introducing a product that they overlook the readiness of the software system or the core features that the product promises of. As a result, a sub-standard version of the product is launched without any competitive edge, and it consequently fails to meet customers’ expectations. At the same time, you should not be too late in this game of SaaS product launch to avoid being called a ‘me-too’ product. It is essential to find that sweet spot of perfect time when you can hit the nail when it is hot! A product should be launched when the market is ripe and the needs (for such a product) have started to show among the customers who are ready to try the product to gain proven business value. Also, make sure that your product is ready and agile enough to meet customers’ needs and evolving business requirements. It’s better to do certain research and surveys to gather industry trends, insights about customer experiences and expectations from the product, their core pain points and competitors’ offerings before deciding the right time of product launch.
#3 – Insufficient pricing information
The pricing of the SaaS product is relative. Ideally, it should be based on how broad the audience is for your product, what is the target market that your product wants to serve and how significant is it to solve their challenges and business problems. It is vital to understand how unique your product in the market is, what are the key business value it brings and the ROI that your product aims to get for the customers’ business.
So, what can go wrong with pricing?
No pricing pages: Many companies either don’t have a pricing page or it is there with a lot of ambiguity. If your aim is growth, then it is in the best interest to give data and information that people usually want, as transparently as possible – like the price of your product.
Having Only One Price: A simple pricing structure is always good, but it should be reasonable for the people who visit your site to buy. Please note that if you have a single price for all needs, it might not fit a specific organization’s budget. Hence, pricing structure consists of two to four price points to cater to enterprises with different budget factors. It is important to be affordable, organized and flexible when it comes to product pricing.
Having Too Many Price Options: On the other hand, don’t confuse or spoil the prospective customers/buyers with too many pricing options, which often fail to maintain relevance or simplicity. It is advisable to hit a balance when you decide to offer a proper pricing structure with just as many options as needed in a logical manner. Understand your product well, its bundle of features and their enterprise advantages, and consider the business-size of your customers before defining the product’s pricing structure. Decide and customize your pricing options that work for you and your audience – monthly, quarterly, yearly, or subscription basis.
#4 – Unsystematic Sales Processes
Before launching a SaaS product, one needs to have a well-designed business plan for the product to be sales-ready. Otherwise, it ends up nowhere. When the customers buy your product, they are shelling out some sizeable money, obviously, they will expect a clear process of how to use the product. It is crucial to ensure that user manual, product tutorials, case studies, and FAQs are available for exploring, before launch. Product owners should understand that leaving things for the customers to assume, especially about how to use, set and implement the product, will surely not add any value to the sales cycle.
Also, if visitors have liked your product and have expressed further interest and land up in the lead funnel, they have probably reached a point of decision-making. This is where they have clicked the demo CTA, or are in conversation with your reps.
There are mistakes, which may happen in this phase:
Focused sales pitch helps in bringing quality leads. If the pitch is very generic, it may end up in bulk traffic, which mainly consists of irrelevant leads, and hence chances of conversions will be lower than expected.
Some representatives have the habit of using high-pressure pitch. And some even end up in fast and misleading conversations leading to false information-sharing or promising with no documentation. In these cases, prospects might not get converted into customers, and even if they do, they will not stick around for long.
So, it is wise to focus on developing sales conversations and pitches based on proper and valid documentation of sales processes to help your team avoid unnecessary pressure.
It’s the age of the internet, which means, most of your buyers are already aware of your product’s existence. But what if your sales reps are not ready with the required material or the supporting information for educating himself/herself as well as the prospects?
Consider the following aspects:
- Do you have the list of target segments to give the right info?
- Do you have the answers of the probable questions that your prospects might ask the sales reps?
- Can you back those answers with sufficient content/documentation?
- Have you completely assessed your current content and improved them for better sales qualification?
#5 – Inadequate human resource
Launching a SaaS product doesn’t only need a single team who are good at building the core product. It is essential to have all the key resources/officials to take care of other crucial tasks like operations, HR, design, marketing, software testing and so on. Not having adequate executives who share different shades of expertise can be a major flaw for the SaaS startup. However, in case your company lacks proper human resource, it is advisable to outsource some of the usual yet pivotal tasks. Don’t consider doing everything by yourself because it is better to do what we are best at and leave the rest of the work to the experts. Often outsourcing is a good option for those teams who have better experience and competency to build a SaaS product.
#6 – Inadequate time for initial product queries
Not dedicating and allocating a specific amount of time to handle the initial customer queries and curiosity factors can turn into a major pitfall for SaaS product builders – the absence of which might result to great sales failure. At least a week or two should be dedicated after the launch of the product to handle initial customer support, fine-tune the unavoidable problems customers will encounter, and updating the product as required.
#7 – Poor Customer Service
It is very important to provide consistently good customer service, as that is one of the most critical deciding factors for the customers to continue with your product, month on month or year on year. It is believed that the news of customer dissatisfaction spreads faster than the accolades for good service.
While growth is defined by getting new customers on board in a constant manner, you cannot afford to ignore the importance of the existing ones – who are equally important for the SaaS product’s success. So, a major pitfall can be avoided if you never lose focus from the existing customer bases. It is crucial to retain the current customers, who in turn form the foundation of new ones. Hence keeping customers satisfied and taking care of their issues, should be given topmost priority.
Keeping the above point in mind, let’s understand the reason why customers stop using your product.
The early stage of the product life cycle might confront certain obvious problems that need to be finetuned. But failing to address those issues is definitely not a good sign. Hence, Agile/Scrum development process can help deal with these issues in a quick and iterative way to keep customers from going away and to retain them with timely customer service.
Lack of Post-Sale Communication
Not having an after-sales relationship management with clients is a pitfall you must avoid.
Imagine this scenario. You have a perfect pitch, your pricing is set right, you are constantly updating your software, and your business is doing well. But, then, suddenly something new from the competitor, which happens to be your niche area, comes along. It might happen that this ‘something new’ is addressing your customer requirements in a better way and is getting a lot of your clients’ attention. This proves to be pretty detrimental for your own brand. However, this scenario can be avoided if you follow and adhere to a strategic customer communication and engagement process to constantly converse and interact with them about understanding their business goals and pain points and suggesting them how to mitigate those using your product in a successful manner. An enduring customer communication system has a positive influence on your customer lifetime value – both in terms of permanency with the initial purchase and the ability for add-on sales in the future.
They say experience is nothing, but our summary of committed mistakes. Hence, it’s OK to make mistakes, unless and until we get the right lessons out of them. We tried to bring to you this topic to help you avoid some major afflictions of SaaS product launch, along with the best possible ways to eliminate them with the correct steps to keep marching ahead towards growth. The best part is that we have gathered all these insights from our very own experiences, observations, failures and achievements.